la noce (nohs) noun, feminine
1. wedding; wedding party
En automne, je récoltai toutes mes peines et les enterrai dans mon jardin. Lorsque avril refleurit et que la terre et le printemps célébrèrent leurs noces, mon jardin fut jonché de fleurs splendides et exceptionnelles.
In the autumn I gathered all my sorrows and buried them in my garden. And when April returned and spring came to wed the earth, there grew in my garden beautiful flowers unlike all other flowers. --Khalil Gibran
(The following story was written one year ago)
A stone's throw from the Spanish border, in a department of southwest France exotically known as "les Pyrénées Orientales," Jean-Marc and I celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary, or "noces de corail".*
For this onzième* anniversary, Jean-Marc selected the old fishing port of Collioures for our week-end getaway. "Because it is a typical French village," he explained. To me, this "typical French village" felt oh-so-Spanish, making it the perfect choice for a dépaysement.*
The colorful town of Collioure is surrounded by hills of vines which protect it from le vent* and is known to gourmands* for its grenache-based wines and anchovy trade. To artists, Collioures is treasured for its exceptional Mediterranean light. Matisse found the charming port back in 1905, after which the town became a meeting point for les fauvists.* Since then, artists like Picasso, Dali and Braque, and not a few tourists, have flocked to this bijou* of a village by the glittering sea, along the Côte Vermeille or "Gilded Coast" in the South of France.
While Jean-Marc sampled spicy reds in a wine boutique, I discovered the pastel-toned village via its maze of medieval paths. Flowering vines tumbled from the tiny balcons* and the scent of fermenting grapes permeated the air as local cellars processed the recent harvest.
After a quick aller-retour* up one of the streets, I checked in on Jean-Marc back at the wine boutique to find him swirling red in a gigantic glass, an air-tight pack of sardines-in-oil on the counter in front of him. "For the apéro*..." he explained.
Given another pocket of time to play with, I ventured farther into the cramped town center, noting art galleries à gogo, shops bursting with temptations such as striped espadrilles in red, yellow, bordeaux, orange, and green and stylish wicker baskets hanging from beneath the canvas store awnings. Dozens of restaurants poured out of the ancient buildings and onto the cobblestone paths
via clusters of tables and chairs. Small chalkboards with curly French writing announced the plat du jour* and the spicy aromas coming from the kitchens wooed weary travelers to sit down and literally savor a bite of Catalonia.
I reunited with my husband in front of the immobilier's,* just around the corner from the wine boutique, where he was looking at photographs of properties for sale. "Five hectares of vines!" he said, as I walked up. I smiled in recognition of one Frenchman's passionate rêve.* For as long as I have known Jean-Marc, he has dreamed of having his very own, family run vineyard. It may take eleven more years for him to realize his dream. It will surely require the same perseverance and personal investment of a happy marriage to reach his goal. But if you ask me, he'll have his vines one day.
*References: le mariage de corail (m) = coral wedding anniversary; onzième = eleventh; le dépaysement (m) = change of scenery; le vent (m) = wind; un gourmand, une gourmande = one who is fond of food; le fauvist (m) (from "les fauves" = wild beasts) = painter who follows fauvism; le bijou (m) = gem; le balcon (m) = balcony; l'aller-retour (m) = round-trip; l'apéro (m) = appetizer; le plat du jour (m) = today's special; l'immobilier (m) = realtor's office; le rêve (m) = dream
The French-Inspired Home, by Kaari Meng, includes 40 charming projects that capture the sights, scents, and textures of the French countryside.
Listen to French:
Hear Jean-Marc recite today's quote: En automne, je récoltai toutes mes peines et les enterrai dans mon jardin. Lorsque avril refleurit et que la terre et le printemps célébrèrent leurs noces, mon jardin fut jonché de fleurs splendides et exceptionnelles.
faire la noce = to live it up
le voyage de noces = honeymoon
les noces d'argent/d'or = silver/golden wedding anniversary
ne pas être à la noce: to not be happy to be somewhere (not be in the mood to party)
In books and gifts:
The Basque Kitchen: Tempting Food from the Pyrenees
WINEOPOLY. Pop the cork off any gathering with WINEOPOLY! Players buy favorite wines, collect bunches of grapes and trade them in for decanters.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi